US air strikes target Islamic State militants in Syria

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Sep 23, 2014 13:58 IST

The United States began bombing ISIS targets in Syria using fighters, bomber and Tomahawk missiles, according to the Pentagon late Monday night.

"I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles,” said Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby.

“Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time,” he added.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan were among countries that took part in these bombings, according to reports.

The bombings came a day before President Barack Obama was scheduled to address the UN Security Council on foreign fighters working with the ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is arriving here later in the week for UN general assembly meetings in New York and talks with President Barrack Obama in DC.

ISIS was to figure in their talks, but now with the US attacking the terrorist outfit — which is holding Indians hostages in Mosul, Iraq — the strikes may move up their agenda.

Obama administration officials told US media that Monday’s bombings were focussed on targets — mostly buildings — in Raqqa, a Syrian city now home to ISIS.

US strikes on ISIS position in Syria were expected after President Barack Obama announced earlier this month “I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.”

“That means,” he had added, “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL (an alternate acronym for ISIS, also sometimes called just IS, for Islamic State) in Syria, as well as Iraq.”

Senior US officials have been saying for a while now that the only effective way of dealing with ISIS — destroying it, in other words — was to attack it in both Iraq and Syria.

The strategy was to first chase them out of Iraq once a more inclusive government was in place in Baghdad, denying ISIS support from disgruntled Sunnis.

Corner them in Syria then, in their so-called strongholds, such as Raqqa, said the next phase of the plan, and then hit them there with every resource available to US forces.

US military had not made available any estimates of the damage inflicted by these new expanded attacks on ISIS, but experts warned this fight was far from over yet.

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